Concern at farm shop's 'overly large turbine' near Okehampton
Plans to tear down a one-year-old wind turbine and replace it with one twice the size – yards from the main A30 – have been revealed.
And the new turbine, which will stand 252ft (77m) from ground to blade tip, could completely wipe out a hefty annual electricity bill of £40,000 and safeguard 40 jobs, owners say.
Lifton Farm Shop, near Okehampton, installed an 88ft (27m) tower around 12 months ago. Notices were posted around the local area last week advertising a fresh application to erect a 164ft (50m) model some 190metres from the dual carriageway. Concerns have been raised that the tower will spoil the view, is bigger than the business needs and may provide a distraction for motorists on the busy road.
But the farmer claims the structure is a long way from the road and safely outside the required "toppling distance".
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Adam Mounce, whose family run the business, said measurements had revealed "good" wind speeds and raised hopes they could supply all their own power. "We already have extant planning permission for a second the same height but we think it's worth investing the money for the larger one," he added. "Our electricity bill is more than £100 per day but in five to ten years that could be £150 or £200 so we are looking to the future."
If West Devon Borough Council approves the planning application the 500kW turbine will stand in place of the current machine. The application, supported by agents CMS UK, based in Cheshire, has provoked positive and negative responses on the council's website.
Tony Austin, of nearby Meadwell, wrote that although the turbine was only visible from a "limited area" the council needed a policy to prevent the "creeping industrialisation" of the countryside.
Chris Burchell, from Milton Abbot, objected to the plans, claiming the turbine would be visible from Dartmoor National Park and will distract drivers on the eastbound A30 as they descend from the Launceston underpass.
Neighbours David and Sarah Bryers, who can see the turbine from their home, claim the potential output of the turbine is four times the farm's needs. They say the view for the village could be spoiled by an "overly large turbine".
Mr Mounce said the family were not interested in benefiting from the Government's lucrative Feed-in Tariff, which pays an amount per unit of electricity supplied to the National Grid, as the savings in energy bills were much higher than any potential income. He said the plan was to switch gas cookers in the restaurant to electricity then power them by wind.
"If it was just to plug into the grid we would not be keen to do it," he added. "Personally, I think the visual impact of one large turbine will be much the same as two small ones."